Four double figure efforts helped power the Butler Bulldogs to victory Saturday.
Bryce Nze, Jordan Tucker, Sean McDermott and Aaron Thompson combined for 59 points, as the Dawgs earned their second win of the season over the New Orleans Privateers. The Bulldogs’ final tally of 79-53 keeps them unbeaten, as they’re 2-0 for the seventh straight season.
Butler led from wire to wire after McDermott’s slam dunk 27 seconds into the game. McDermott’s 3-pointer just 25 seconds later propped them up 5-0, and they were off to the races after that. And while New Orleans’ Bryson Robinson scored on a layup at the 18:40 mark, that three point deficit that followed would be as close as New Orleans would get the entire game.
That Butler hit six 3-pointers in the first half versus one from New Orleans likely played a big role in how they were able to separate themselves in the first 20 minutes. And their ownage inside, going 10-for-21 in the second half on 2-point tries, played into their hand as well. The Dawgs would hold a lead as large as 29 at one point, this after a Tucker 3-pointer with 28 seconds to go, which went down as Butler’s final made bucket of the game.
Nze led the way on Saturday with 18 points on the night. It may have taken him 14 shots to get there, but he still was plenty effective enough on the day. He went 5-for-6 from the free throw line, getting the most of attempts at the line and the most makes of anyone in the game. Nze didn’t just contribute points either. He picked up a double-double after grabbing 10 rebounds — five apiece on offense and defense. That makes it two straight double-doubles for the Milwaukee Panthers transfer to start the year and nine in his career.
Tucker crept behind Nze in the point department, finishing with 16. He made four 3-pointers, edging his teammate McDermott for the most on the day. It wasn’t quite the showing he had against the St. John’s Red Storm a season ago when he had six, but it did match the four he had against the Providence Friars in the Big East Tournament last season. He added three rebounds and an assist with just two turnovers in 27 minutes.
The former Duke Blue Devils transfer certainly made the most of his season debut, after sitting out due to a (rather silly) suspension sent down by the NCAA for the opener against IUPUI.
The aforementioned McDermott finished the day with 13 points in 32 minutes. He was highly effective, missing just two shots from the field on his six attempts, and went 2-for-2 at the line. He had eight rebounds, six of which came on the offensive glass, one assist and committed no turnovers as well. He may have halved the amount of points he had against IUPUI, but he still had another strong showing to say the least.
Lastly, Thompson finished the day with 12 points. He lived inside, making five 2-pointers on seven attempts. He also had a double-double, dishing out 10 — count ‘em — 10 assists on the afternoon. That is up from the nine that he had against the Jags, so he’s certainly been a man on a mission thus far.
The closest player to double figures was Henry Baddley, who finished with seven points in 16 minutes of action. Baddley went 3-for-4 from the field with a 3-pointer as one of his makes. He also recorded five rebounds, an assist and a steal as well.
Kamar Baldwin played 14 minutes of action, as he’s still not entirely 100 percent, and finished with four points, a board, two assists, a block and two steals.
Bryce Golden, the lone starter who didn’t place in double figures, had five points, six boards, two assists and one turnover in 23 minutes. Golden though was plagued by foul trouble, picking up a game-high four fouls on the day.
Finally, Khalif Battle and John-Michael Mulloy each had two points in a combined 24 minutes, 12 apiece for the freshmen.
There’s lots to be pleased about here, especially how the Bulldogs have played defensively. Granted, both IUPUI and New Orleans aren’t the greatest teams, but they’ve allowed just a combined 100 points in the first two games of the season. Last year, they allowed 131 to the Miami (OH) RedHawks and Detroit-Mercy Titans. Their marks have all been good to great thus far, and while their 2-point defense is closer to average right now, they still have plenty of time to improve that.
Next time we see Butler, they’ll be taking part in the 2019 Gavitt Tip-Off Games. They’ll welcome the Minnesota Golden Gophers to Hinkle for this go-around, which should be an intriguing game. The Gophers defeated the Cleveland State Vikings in their opener, but fell to the Oklahoma Sooners on Saturday in Sioux Falls.